Starfighters with Taiwan

Last revised December 12, 1999

Accurate accounts of deliveries of Starfighters to Taiwan are hard to come by, but it is known that an initial batch of 24 ex-USAF F-104As and 5 F-104Bs were delivered to Taiwan in 1960-61.

In 1964-69, Taiwan received 46 Lockheed-built F-104Gs, eight TF-104Gs, plus 21 RF-104Gs from Canadair. Another six F-104Ds were received in 1975 from former Air National Guard squadrons In 1983, these Starfighters were by ex-Luftwaffe machines (38 F-104Gs and 27 TF-104Gs), these aircraft being from the batch of Luftwaffe- owned Starfighters retained at Luke AFB for training purposes and operating in USAF insignia and serials. By 1987, the RoCAF had received at least 22 F-104Js and five F-104DJs from Japan, together with 15 F-104Gs and three TF-104Gs from Denmark. However, some of these aircraft were suitable only for scavenging for spare parts.

The high point of the RoCAF's F-104 service came on January 13, 1967, when a pair of Starfighters shot down a couple of People's Liberation Army MiG-19s in an air battle. This was the first F-104 air-to air victory. However, the RoCAF Starfighter service was marred by frequent accidents.

All in all, Taiwan has received at least 166 single-seat Starfighters and about 53 two-seaters, plus possible additional and unknown quantities from Japan. They are known to have operated with the following units

Earlier plans to upgrade RoCAF Starfighters to F-104ASA standard by the installation of FIAR Grifo fire control radar which would give them beyond-visible-range AAM capability were abandoned.

All of the early series F-104As, Bs, and Ds were withdrawn from service by the early 1980s, some of them having been transferred to Pakistan and Jordan. Others were expended as drones or decoys.

By the mid-1990s, the RoCAF's F-104Gs were beginning to show signs of age and were becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. The Starfighters of the 427th TFW were retired and replaced by F-CK-1 Ching-Kuos in 1993. In May 1997, the 499th TFW at Hsinchu AB began to replace its Starfighters with Mirage 2000-5s. The last remaining Starfighter unit, the 12th TRS was relocated from Taoyutan AB to Hsinchu AB. In a ceremony held at Ching Chuang Kang Air Base on May 22, 1998, the last of the 12th TRS's F-104Gs was officially retired from service, bringing the era of Starfighter service with the RoCAF to an end.


  1. The Lockheed F-104G/CF-104, Gerhard Joos, Aircraft in Profile No. 131, Doubleday, 1969.

  2. The World's Great Interceptor Aircraft, Gallery Books, 1989.

  3. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, Steve Pace, Motorbooks International, 1992.

  4. Lockheed Aircraft Since 1913, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1987.

  5. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, John Fricker, Wings of Fame, Vol 2, Aerospace Publishing Ltd, 1996.

  6. ROCAF F-104s Retire, Wei-Bin Chang, Air Forces Monthly, August 1998